Senate Democrats from the Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter on Friday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, requesting any and all documents that relate to a private conversation between President Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin last month.
The lawmakers want to know what commitments were made and ideas discussed between the two leaders that could affect the American people, and they want Pompeo to turn over all documents related to that discussion to the committee, including interpreters’ notes.
Their concerns seem valid; during the public portion of that meeting, Trump made it seem as though he had full trust in Putin — even as evidence from intelligence agencies indicated that the Kremlin tried to interfere and influence the 2016 presidential election. Some even went so far as to call Trump’s comments during the summit “treasonous,” while others, including Republicans, were not happy with the president not taking Putin to task over the issue.
In fact, although Republicans didn’t sign onto the letter by Democrats issued Friday, some did remark earlier this week how they desired to learn more about the private conversation between the two leaders.
“We’d like to understand what was agreed to when the leaders of our two countries sat down in Helsinki,” Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) said. “Were there discussions regarding current or future arms control agreements? What other promises or assurances were made? To date we have received no real readout, even in a classified setting, of this meeting.”
In the letter to Pompeo, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) wrote about the same desire to know what exactly went down in that meeting.
“In view of the President’s comments and the inability of senior officials to provide a clear and complete description of any commitments that President Trump may have made during this two-hour conversation, we respectfully request that you provide relevant materials including all classified and unclassified cable traffic, memoranda of conversations, interpreter’s notes and policy directives related to the meeting,” the letter read.
“We make this request only as a direct result of the extraordinary and, to our knowledge, unprecedented circumstances of President Trump's two hour, one-on-one meeting with a leader identified as a threat to the United States by President Trump's own National Security Strategy,” the letter added.
Communications between presidents and other foreign leaders do not necessarily need to be made public. But other lawmakers, specifically those who deal with the foreign policy interests of the United States, deserve to have knowledge of what the executive branch has said. Being a co-equal branch of government, the legislative branch ought to have some say in the matter.
For the good of the American people, and to preserve the checks and balances of government, Pompeo ought to comply with the request of the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Issei Kato/Reuters